Fuel Games: Managing SEO
The company I work for, Fuel Industries, just launched a new site: Fuel Games. It is a subdivision focused specifically on gaming as a brand-building experience, also known as advergaming.
One of the main goals of the site was to jam-pack it full of content; to make it interesting to read and to draw in repeat visitors. An extension of that was to improve search engine results. I did a couple key things to accomplish better rankings.
This is a tricky issue. Essentially, you need to fill the shoes of your potential customers and determine what keywords they will use to find your site. While you can certainly look at your existing site statistics for how customers are currently finding you, it's not really an accurate indicator for what the majority of the users might be using. After all, if you've optimized for the keyword "sneakers" but 80% of users looking for your type of product type in "shoes" then all you'll ever know about are the 20% of users who find you.
In our case, we wanted to take advantage of key industry terms now becoming popular in our niche of the market: advergaming or brand gaming. With this information in hand, our writers tailored the content to make use of these words.
This doesn't mean it has to be done in an obnoxious way either like we used to see in the past with the word simply repeated again and again. But it can be done in a subtle way. Take the following sentence: "Check out this game." Seems simple and straightforward enough but it doesn't maximize the use of our keywords. Changing it to "Check out this advergame" does the trick. This is a fairly benign example but I think you get the idea.
As you may or may not be aware of, Google - and possibly other search engines - rank content that appears higher in the page as more relevant. Since Google doesn't understand what that means visually, it has to rely on the HTML source. Doing this with tables would have been impossible but thanks to floats in CSS, it's quite easy to do.
First, I create a container
div that will hold my two columns. With a fixed width design, I assign a width to the container. Then I float the main content to the right and the sidebar to the left. Two factors that can make content ordering difficult to work with are fluid layouts and backgrounds for either column. Since neither of these issues applied to my situation, things worked out well.
This is a similar technique to what I use here on snook.ca. If you remove stylesheets, you'll notice that all navigation actually appears after the article. The main header then becomes one of the first key pieces of information seen in the source and that's exactly what we want.
The design called for some punchy headline styles but with frequent content updates it didn't make sense to have to export graphics every time a new page was made. With version 2.0 just released, I felt confident that it would solve the problem. Everyone in the office was very happy with the outcome. And Google will be, too, because it can still read and understand the headers. This understanding comes from properly using heading tags like
h3. I was also able to direct the content writers to be more descriptive with the headers to make them more relevant to search engines.
Only time will tell how effective the results will be. Probably the biggest misunderstanding from clients is that search engine optimization is not an overnight cure. It takes time, from weeks to months, to actually see results. Stick to it, continue to pour content into your site and the results will come.